The Reception of Anglo-American Drama During the Great War in Period Newspapers
During World War I, theatre became an effective channel of communication and a means of encouragement. In times of economic difficulties and political paralysis, theatrical productions were designed to arouse the Czech national consciousness. The repertoire was particularly oriented towards classical works of national literature (e.g. by Klicpera, Tyl, Jirásek) and “democratic drama” (e.g. Shaw). Considerable theatrical space was also devoted to Shakespearean plays. One of the greatest theatrical achievements was the Shakespearean festival in the spring of 1916, which took place in Prague and many other Czech theatres. Thanks to Jaroslav Počepický (director) and Bedřich Karen (title protagonist), it gained a distinctive character on Pilsen’s stages as well. The Shakespearean dramatic cycle naturally had both artistic and political implications. Shakespeare thus became, figuratively speaking, an inspirer and co-creator of Czech national history.
The article aims to specify the proportion of repertoire constituted by Anglo-American drama at the Municipal Theatre in Pilsen during the Great War. Based on a chronological approach, it furthermore attempts to trace the reception of particular productions, e.g. The Merchant of Venice, Captain Brassbound, The Tempest, Androcles and the Lion, Hamlet, and Venice Preserved, in theatre reviews published between 1914 – 1918 in local periodicals Český deník (The Czech Daily) and Nová doba (The New Time).
William Shakespeare, the Great War, the Czech lands, Pilsen, the Municipal theatre in Pilsen, Shakespeare festival